OutdoorLink Releases New Controller for Remotely Managing Digital DC Assets

OutdoorLink, Inc. is excited to release the SL-2-DC controller, its newest addition to the SmartLink™ Asset Management System.  This model is designed to manage low voltage digital assets like bus stop lighting, real-time signage, WIFI routers, media players and illuminated advertising shelters.  All assets are controlled through the cloud, which reduces the need for onsite troubleshooting and provides 24/7 monitoring and control.

The SL-2-DC can manage solar or AC powered devices but is particularly valuable for monitoring solar powered assets like lighting and digital signage. When assets like these reach critically low power levels or lose power entirely, the SmartLink™ system notifies users so they can minimize downtime and restore functionality as quickly as possible.  Run-times can be changed online to accommodate solar power limitations, which keeps devices running when needed and reduces the frequency of solar battery replacements.

The SL-2-DC is the most compact controller in the SmartLink™ collection and can be easily installed into new or existing enclosures. OutdoorLink has partnered with Urban Solar, the public transit industry leader in solar lighting, to include the SL-2-DC in the deployment of the new PV Stop+.  The PV Stop+ provides a pole-mounted solar solution for bus stops without shelters where security lighting and/or digital displays are needed.  “Through SmartLink, we’re able to offer clients 24/7 visibility to the health of their assets and make adjustments as needed to keep things running.  It’s not sustainable to do this manually at hundreds of locations, and we want to help clients be proactive instead of reactive,” says Eben Lindsey, Manager at Urban Solar.




New PV Stop+ by Urban Solar for Pole-mounted Lighting and Digital Real-time Displays



New PV Stop+ by Urban Solar for Pole-mounted Lighting and Digital Real-time Displays

New PV Stop+ by Urban Solar for Pole-mounted Lighting and Digital Real-time Displays


Read article posted on Metro Magazine.

OOH Hackers - Billboard Insider - SmartLink

The Best Hacker Prevention?

Insider posted an article in October 2019 about a digital sign that was hacked on I-75 North  in Auburn Hills MI and showed an adult video for 20 minutes to the public.

Maybe the best way to deter hackers is to make known there are consequences to their actions.  Insider gives a shout out to the Auburn Hills police who have recently charged two teenagers for breaking into the shed under the billboard along I-75 and hacking the video unit that feeds the signage. A Daily News article notes that a 16-year-old boy was blamed for posting the pornographic material. He can avoid charges by attending a program for juvenile offenders, according to the report. His 18-year-old accomplice was charged with trespassing in November, according to cops. An earlier report said the suspects could have been given up to 90-days in jail and a $500 fine.

At the time of our October article, Insider provided some tips for being hacked which are worth providing again:

  1. Secure your structures.  SmartLink makes an outstanding intruder detection system which can deter hackers.  Fences, locks and security cameras are critical.  Here are some tips from a 2015 OAAA presentation on digital security.
  2. Take your router off the internet and use a Virtual Private Network.
  3. Use strong passwords so hackers can’t get into the computers which program your boards.
  4. Have a crisis plan.  Know who to contact 24/7 in case of a hack and have a plan for regaining control of the billboard.  Develop a relationship with local law enforcement officials because they’ll probably be called first.

Remote site locations are targets for vandalism.  Basic deterrents can be implemented to minimize your exposure to disruptions of service:

  • Fence the perimeter of the base
  • Ladder climb deterrents
  • Security system signage
  • Security cameras
  • Alarm systems (contact closures on control cabinets, infrared motion break detectors
  • Use systems with remote management – easily controlled from a NOC or authorized agent (i.e. SmartLink by OutdoorLink)

Read the original article from Billboard Insider here.


Out of Home Digital Billboard SmartLilnk

Solar Powered Bus Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

Detroit Features the Latest in Smart Transit with Solar E-Paper Displays and SmartLink Remote Management

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART Bus), in Detroit, MI continues to invest in bus stop shelter amenities for its riders.  SMART is in the middle of a multi-year deployment of its new FAST shelters that feature a mix of solar powered digital technologies aimed to improve the ridership experience as well as reduce SMART’s operational overhead.

The bus shelters feature 400W of solar power that powers a 32” digital e-paper display, illuminated location sign, shelter security lighting and USB charging port.  The e-paper displays provide dynamic messaging with real-time bus arrival times, ridership alerts and marketing campaigns.  This reduces SMART’s need for printed schedules and maps and provides riders with updated arrival information every minute.  With the option to push marketing campaigns alongside real-time arrival info, SMART leverages the displays to post job openings, ridership incentives and community events.

Inside each FAST shelter is a SmartLink SL-4-DC controller that enables SMART’s operations team to remotely manage each of the devices from their office or mobile device.  Detroit experiences severe rain and snowstorms throughout the year and having the ability to remotely control its digital inventory drastically reduces the need for site visits.  The SmartLink system gives SMART the control to schedule each device individually, reboot the e-paper displays if they lose connectivity, and modify the solar power settings if necessary.  If a shelter location is poor for solar, the run-times of the devices can be remotely altered to maintain device uptime during the most critical operating times.

For more info on this project, contact Jenni Evans with OutdoorLink at jennifer@outdoorlinkinc.com or (256) 885-9768 ext. 309.



Solar Powered Bus Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

SMART Bus’s Solar Powered Bus Stop Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

SMART Bus's Solar Powered Bus Stop Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

Flexible solar panels mounted to the roof of the Eclipse bus stop shelter

SMART Bus's Solar Powered Bus Stop Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

Push button for solar powered LED lighting

SMART Bus's Solar Powered Bus Stop Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

SMART Bus’s Solar Powered Bus Stop Shelters with SmartLink Remote Device Management System by OutdoorLink

SmartLink OutdoorLink Panel Billboard Insider

Billboard Insider on Cutting Out of Home Utility Costs

SmartLink OutdoorLink Panel Billboard Insider

Left to right: Dave Westburg (Billboard Insider), Brian Kline (Reliable Electric), PJ Pedroni (OutdoorLink)


Billboard Insider moderated a panel on cutting out of home utility costs at last week’s IBOUSA show.  Brian Kline of Reliable Electric and PJ Pedroni of OutdoorLink participated in the discussion.  Here’s a summary.

What are the benefits of installing high efficiency LED’s?

  • High efficiency lights use 70-80% less power.
  • Significantly less maintenance cost because there are no lamps or ballasts to replace. Most common item to be replaced in a LED fixture is the driver
  • Copy has much better uniformity
  • Higher CRI makes the color on copy more true
  • Distinction between colors makes the copy appear to be brighter.

How much will high efficiency LED’s cost?

  • Typical fixtures for Outdoor are going to run in the $400 range.  The cost has dropped 30-40% since 2012.  Many utilities have inventive programs which will allow you to reduce your fixture costs even further.
  • Installation cost can vary between fixtures and structure configuration.  SmartLink has a full operations management division to support operator partners with projects like this.  They can provide you with an estimate if they know what fixtures you have.

What’s the return on investment?

  •  The return on invested capital is 30-40% which equates to a 2-3 year payback.  Insider achieved a 37% return on investment by retrofitting lights at a Clear Lake Iowa billboard.
  •  The expense savings is risk-free because you’ll achieve it regardless of economic conditions.

What are the benefits of installing SmartLink in connection with an LED retrofit?

  • SmartLink systems minimize electric bills by automatically adjusting your light hours based on sunrise and sunset. It allows for multiple schedules should a customer require evening and morning illumination.
  • SmartLink increases customer satisfaction by notifying you immediately of lighting outages so you can schedule maintenance trips promptly. The daily monitoring also alleviates any concern post LED fixture upgrade. Would notify you in the case anything should not be performing as expected, i.e. a driver has failed.
  • SmartLink reduces maintenance costs by allowing you to remotely turn on and off lights, and manage operational tasks automatically like adjusting the entire plant for daylight savings without having to roll a truck. The diagnostic software allows you to determine most of your issues at a structure before leaving the plant.
  • One IBOUSA member has added ”SmartLink control” on their contracts and ride sheets for illuminated panels. It differentiates them from their competition and allows them to maintain a premium price for the inventory.

How do I proceed with a retrofit?

  • Inventory the lights which you want to replace.
  • Contact Brian Kline at Reliable Electric (866-250-6445, bkline@reliable-electric.com)  and PJ Pedroni at OutdoorLink (253-377-8700,pjpedroni@outdoorlinkinc.com) to get a cost quote for the retrofit and for help identifying and securing utility rebates.
  • If you wish to do the install yourself the LED’s can be shipped to your office so you can do the install yourself.
  • If you want help with the install the LED units will be shipped to SmartLink and their installation crews will handle the install.
Kansas City - Bus Shelter - SmartLink OutdoorLink REDYREF Kiosk

KCATA Reduces Carbon Footprint with Digital Wayfinding and SmartLink Remote Management

Kansas City, MO | The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority joins a growing number of transit agencies in reducing their carbon footprint at a maintenance and operations level. The new Prospect MAX stations, located throughout downtown Kansas City, are expected to be completed by the end of November 2019 and will feature KCATA’s latest investments in “smart transit” technologies.

Each MAX BRT station will feature a newly designed passenger waiting shelter, manufactured by Decamil, an integrated wayfinding kiosk, and/or a freestanding digital totem.  The wayfinding kiosks, manufactured by REDYREF, provide interactive trip-planning and real-time departure info, eliminating the need for printed maps and schedules. The kiosks feature a capacitive LCD touchscreen, speakers, a microphone, webcam, and an ADA compliant text-to-speech button for audio announcements.

The freestanding digital totem features the MAX station’s name with LED illumination, and a two-sided REDYREF LCD display that provides next-departure times and ridership alerts.

All Prospect MAX vehicles and stations will offer free WIFI to riders via Cradlepoint routers.

Governing all the devices at the MAX stations is a SmartLink management controller, provided by OutdoorLink, Inc. The SmartLink remotely monitors the performance of each device, sends outage alerts to KCATA when devices lose power or connectivity, and provides the ability to reboot them to restore service. Each device operates on its own schedule, which can be changed remotely at any time by KCATA through the SmartLink portal.

“Adding digital devices to transit stops often leads to an increase in time and costs spent to maintain them. SmartLink controllers provide the ability to remotely manage and backup these assets, so we’re able to resolve device downtime quickly and reduce the need for site visits,” says Jenni Evans, VP, Transit Solutions for OutdoorLink. “It’s a simple solution for managing devices at hundreds of stops, and we’re proud to help clients create more sustainable and scalable operations.”

For more details on this project or the technologies referenced, contact Doug Pew with OutdoorLink at doug@outdoorlinkinc.com.


Kansas City - Bus Shelter - SmartLink OutdoorLink REDYREF Kiosk

KCATA MAX Station Shelter with SmartLink Remote Device Management System (2)

Introducing the “Soft Savings” Series: The SmartLink Savings you may be Overlooking

The obvious benefits of the SmartLink System are utility savings, as well as remote monitoring & control of your exterior lighting. Some of (what we call) the Soft Savings often get overlooked when evaluating the performance and value of the SmartLink System. This is a series, so we will be discussing a few of these “Soft Savings” each week.

The first (and possibly most valuable) on our list of “Soft Savings” is the elimination of NIGHT RIDES. Any billboard owner and operator is familiar with the term “Night Rides” or “Riding the Lights”. This term is used to describe the additional manpower and time spent ensuring that a structure’s lights are burning. The SmartLink System has made this time consuming (and outdated) effort a thing of the past. Billboard owners and operation management can make sure lights are burning from their smartphone or laptop even while sitting at home, spending time with their family. Aside from wasting valuable time that could be used otherwise, the SmartLink System eliminates the additional overhead in paying technicians overtime, as well as the maintenance and gas spent on vehicles.

The next item on our list of “Soft Savings” is the automatic adjustment for Daylight Savings Time. This might seem extremely minor, but don’t overlook this feature just yet. The SmartLink System operates on true Automatic Network time, based on a structure’s GPS coordinates. This enables the system to not only make the time adjustment to thousands of structures twice yearly, it also updates the time daily to eliminate money lost due to time drift. The savings owners will notice here is the elimination of traveling to each structure and HAND TURNING a time clock back or forward an hour for DLST. Once again, eliminating the additional overhead of paying employees over-time, as well as the cost of maintenance and gas spent on company vehicles. Additional savings can be seen with the elimination of time drift as well.

Please stay tuned for more features and benefits on our LONG list of Soft Savings. We will be continuing the “Soft Savings” Series as a regular blog update!